By: Inso Park
Originally named Joan Ruth Bader, she was born on March 15, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York. Her father was a furrier, a person who buys and sells furs, and her mother worked in a factory that produced garments. Her mother influenced both Ruth and her brother, and taught them to love and value their education. Unfortunately, tragedy struck when Bader’s mother passed away from cancer the day before her high school graduation. After high school, Bader went on to Cornell University and graduated at the top of her class as well. Within the next year, Bader met her husband, Martin Ginsburg, and took his last name. She had her first child and took a break from her education to raise her family. Her husband was drafted to the military for two years and once he returned home, she enrolled at Harvard Law.
Despite already losing her mother to cancer, her husband was soon diagnosed with testicular cancer. Although this all occured while she was in her first year of law school, she managed to take care of her husband while maintaining her position at the top of her class. Ginsburg balanced her motherly duties while facing gender discrimination at school. In a class of 500 people, she was one of 9 women in the class and served as the first female member of the Harvard Law Review. Thankfully, Ginsburg’s husband recovered from his illness and they relocated their family to New York. Following the move, Ginsburg transferred to Columbia Law School and accepted a position at a law firm. She also served on Columbia’s Law Review and graduated at the top of her class there as well.
Despite her countless accomplishments, she faced constant gender discrimination from her fellow classmates and coworkers. She worked as a clerk for two years before joining the Columbia Project on International Civil Procedure. Shortly after this, she began teaching at Rutgers University before accepting a position at Columbia. She made history by becoming the first female professor to earn tenure at Columbia and also served as the director of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. Ginsburg advocated for gender equality and brought six cases before the United States Supreme Court. After leading these influential movements, her hard work was officially recognized when Jimmy Carter appointed her to the Court of Appeals. Bill Clinton appointed Ginsburg, 13 years later, as a justice for the Supreme Court.
To further demonstrate her dedication to her profession, while she was under chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer, recovering from surgery for colon cancer, and grieving her husband’s passing, she never missed a day. Some of her most important cases include: Frontiero v Richardson (1972), Khan v Shevin (1973), Weinberger v Wiesenfeld (1974), Edwards v Healy (1974), Califano v Goldfarb (1976), and Duren v Mississippi (1978). Although she lost her battle to cancer, throughout her life, she proved time and time again that she was resistant and was capable of handling almost anything life threw at her.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, RBG, dedicated her life to creating social change and supported progressive lifestyles. She served as a supreme court justice who fought against gender discrimination and fought to unify the liberal block of the court. Ginsburg spent her lifetime fighting against injustices and continued to overcome and achieve any obstacles that came her way.